On the global stage, Persian cuisine is perhaps some of the most underrated, particularly when it comes to spice, flavor, and sheer deliciousness.
It is a baffling concept, especially with the wealth of great Persian recipes (and restaurants) that are out there for people to enjoy.
Luckily, there are countless simple recipes, all of which can be made in your own home, allowing you to experience this wonderful cuisine for yourselves.
So, without further ado, let’s get started!
When it comes to traditional Persian dishes, you don’t get more important than Tahdig.
Literally translating to ‘bottom of the pot’, Tahdig is a traditional rice dish, cooked to form a crispy outer shell, flavored with raisins or sultanas, and scented with orange zest.
In many ways this is the perfect comfort food, offering satisfying textures, delicious tastes and smells, and the filling nature of rice, which leaves you satisfied for the rest of the evening.
Like many Persian dishes, Tahdig is also combined with saffron, creating something of a signature flavor that can be attributed to the cuisine.
Despite looking like the classic worldwide favorite, the chicken curry, this Persian chicken recipe is anything but generic.
For starters, the sauce itself is made from a combination of crushed nuts and pomegranate molasses, creating a sweet, spiced, yet filling and sticky sauce to accompany the delicate chicken breast pieces.
Served over a soft bed of white rice, this dish really is comfort food at its best – which goes some way to explain why dishes like this can be found all around the world.
3. Persian Rice
Rice is an important part of Persian cuisine, due in part to the rich, natural abundance of the crop throughout Iran, as well its versatility, and longevity.
This relatively simple rice dish is the perfect accompaniment to any dish, and uses a mixture of rice, herbs, and spices to create something truly delicious and wholesome.
This Persian olive dip is a traditional part of Persian cuisine, often served as an accompaniment to bread or sharing dishes.
Featuring a combination of olives, herbs, and tangy pomegranate seeds, zeytoon parvardeh is popular throughout the country, but is registered as being created in the Gilan province of northern Iran.
With a perfect harmony of sweet, sour, and fruity, zeytoon parvardeh is the perfect side dish or appetizer to share with family, friends, or as part of a larger meal at a group get-together.
Of course, Iran is not just famed for its savory dishes. There are countless snacks and desserts that are popular throughout the 31 provinces of the country, but one of the most popular is probably the Persian love cake.
Scented with roses, cardamom, and saffron, Persian love cake incorporates almonds and pistachios to create something truly wholesome, filling, and surprisingly moreish.
While there are countless variations of this classic dessert, the traditional recipe sticks to the basics, using the floral scents and richness of the nuts as flavoring.
What would food be without bread? Barbari is a traditional Persian flatbread enjoyed throughout Iran, flavored with salt, sugar, pepper, sesame seeds, and Nigella seeds (black onion).
A common side dish to most meals, or a sharing dish to dip in various sauces and accompaniments (such as zeytoon parvardeh), barbari is a staple in most Iranian households, and in many ways represents one of their most down to Earth, traditional meals that has been enjoyed in the region for thousands of years.
Similar in consistency and design to the classic Danish pastry, shirini zaban is a popular sweet treat enjoyed by people all throughout Iran, and incorporates honey, sugar, lemon juice, and the ever important saffron to create something truly memorable and satisfying.
Whether it is enjoyed with morning coffee, or as an after dinner dessert, shirini zaban remains a staple amongst Iranian cafe culture, and continues to be enjoyed by millions of people every day.
These are also common treats that can be made and brought as gifts, particularly for house warming events, or as a celebration of a specific occasion, and are often offered as an introductory snack when a new guest is welcomed into a home.
As well as this, this treat is a common staple of Persian street food, and is eaten during New Year celebrations, along with shirini morabai and reshteh polo.
Abgoosht is a common dish in traditional Persian cuisine, and is a light stew composed of lamb and chickpeas.
Often incorporating seasonal vegetables, there are countless recipes for how to prepare abgoosht, but the key ingredients remain the same.
Despite its relative simplicity, and its long standing throughout the country, this modest dish remains a comforting staple in many people’s diets, and holds a warm place in the hearts and minds of the Iranian people.
Throughout Iran and the Middle East, kebabs are an incredibly popular way to prepare and consume meat, dating back to less developed times in human history, where meat would be prepared over the open fire on a spit.
Kebabs have since become a popular phenomenon throughout the world, thanks to the comforting flavor, the satisfying texture, and the exciting heat of the spices.
This simple yet effective Perian dish was very much at the forefront of this movement, and remains a popular source of protein for many people throughout Iran, due in part to the simple preparation, the affordable ingredients, and the truly satisfying pay off when it all comes together.
10. Maast-O Khiar
This light and refreshing side condiment is essentially cucumber yogurt, incorporating dill, garlic and shallots to create a truly delicious accompaniment to any dish.
Often served with vegetables, salad, or with barbari flatbreads, maast-o khiar is a well loved tradition throughout Iran, and can be prepared and enjoyed with little to no effort, preparation time, or expense.
11. Torshi Sir
Pickled vegetables are surprisingly popular throughout the Middle East, used as a means of preserving and prolonging the lifespan of perishable fruits and vegetables within the hot climate.
Torshi sir is a somewhat unusual sounding pickled garlic recipe, but one that is packed with delicious flavor. Perfect as a snack, a salad item, or a side for a larger meal or banquet.
Torshi sir is a much loved delicacy throughout the 31 provinces of Iran, and continues to be enjoyed by people of all ages as a favored side dish, and treat.
12. Ash Reshteh
Ash reshteh is essentially the Iranian version of noodle soup, common throughout the Middle East and Asia.
Differing somewhat from other foreign equivalents, ash reshteh opts for vegetables and legumes over tomatoes or meat ingredients, making it lighter, more affordable, and easier to prepare.
Incorporating beans, herbs, onions, and noodles, this dish is a firm favorite amongst Iranian people, both as a winter warmer, a light bite, and as a traditionally comforting, wholesome meal that is effective and simple to prepare.
This dish also has specific significance, being especially popular at festive periods in the Persian calendar, such as the celebrations for New Year.
13. Ghormeh Sabzi
Last on our list, but by no means least, ghormeh sabzi is a Persian herb stew, consisting of lamb, mixed vegetables, herbs, and seasonings.
Favored throughout the country as a wholesome, comforting food, this dish is often paired with barbari bread, and often shared with family and friends as a communal meal.
While the traditional dish is served with lamb, chuck beef can be substituted for this – something that can be especially useful, due to the polarizing nature of lamb.
But however you prepare it, this is a much loved and delicious dish, that can be the perfect winter warmer for you and your family!
And there we have it, everything you need to know about some of the best Persian dishes out there.
If there is one thing that can be said about Persian cuisine, it is the sheer amount of color and vibrancy that is present in every dish.
Food is certainly an art form in most cultures, but it is clear that the people of Iran really take this concept to a new level.
Why not try some of these for yourselves? Something tells me you won’t be disappointed!